Thursday, March 13, 2008


EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919 or

Funeral Set for March 16; Nuell’s Legacy Reflects Service to Others, McPhee Says

(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—“A man of immense talent, commitment and service who was valued by his colleagues and students and loved by those who knew him best” is how Dr. John McDaniel, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at MTSU, described the legacy left by Leon Richard “Lon” Nuell, longtime professor of art at MTSU.
Nuell, 68, passed away unexpectedly from a massive stroke on the morning of March 12 at Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro. He had recently undergone hip surgery and was working to recover, reported Ronni Shaw, spokeswoman for the Nuell family.
Nuell joined MTSU’s Department of Art in 1971 after earning his Doctorate of Education and Master of Science (1969) in art education from the University of Kansas and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1962. Prior to joining MTSU’s art faculty, he served as an assistant professor at what is now known as William Woods University in Missouri from 1964 to ’68.
"Dr. Nuell's legacy is not only forever etched on our state's K-12 art education system and MTSU's art program, but also within his great service to others through his tireless efforts on behalf of Holocaust studies,” observed MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.
“For many years, Lon has served as an initiator, leader and proponent of educating others about the Holocaust, including through his role as a chairman and co-chair of MTSU's Holocaust Program,” McPhee continued. “His public service has touched many, many lives and the MTSU community, as well as the greater community, is better for each of us thanks to Lon Nuell, who will be remembered as a gracious and dedicated artist and neighbor who genuinely cared about people.”
As an art educator, Nuell—aside from leading the university’s art education program and serving as director of the Todd Gallery at MTSU—initiated and conducted countless art workshops and lectures for would-be K-12 art educators. His dedication to improving the quality of such art programs was formally recognized at the state level in 2004 when he was asked to serve as a panel member assigned by the state’s Department of Education to develop new licensure standards for art education at the K-12 level.
“Lon’s interest in and appreciation of people—students, staff and faculty, and the public at large, but even more importantly his family and friends—were really quite legendary,” McDaniel said. “He came to MTSU as a young assistant professor, one who took to the institution and the larger community with a passion and constancy that compelled his stay for some 37 years.
“He was equally respected on our campus as a leader, having served at various times as chair of the Department of Art, Commissioner on the Tennessee Commission on Holocaust Education, a member of the Tennessee Art Education Association and, until his untimely death, director of the Todd Gallery.”


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In addition to his long tenure as an on-campus leader, Nuell had served three four-year terms as a board member for Murfreesboro City Schools. First elected in 1996, Nuell was a prior chairman and vice chairman for the board and was running for re-election at the time of his death.
Appointed to the Tennessee Commission on Holocaust Education in 1990-2003 and presented with the ACLU’s First Amendment Award in 2002, among other honors, Nuell—above all else—“was well known for his dedication to teachers and education,
with the service that he supplied for many years to the Murfreesboro City School Board and his supervision of MTSU student teachers who wished to provide our schools with an appreciation of the fine arts,” McDaniel remarked.
“With the sudden passing of Dr. Lon Nuell on the morning of March 12, 2008, the university and the community have lost a man who will long be remembered for his service to others, his wry wit and a genial personality,” observed McDaniel. “Lon was valued by his colleagues and students and loved by those who knew him best. His passing is an immeasurable loss to us all.” Nuell’s funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at Congregation Micah-Reform Jewish Synagogue, 2001 Old Hickory Blvd., in Brentwood. The synagogue may be contacted by telephone at 615-377-9799.
Shaw said the family has asked that donations be made to the MTSU Art Department Scholarship Fund. The department may be reached by calling 615-898-2455.
Nuell is survived by his wife, Dr. Elizabeth “Christie” Nuell, also an MTSU art professor, and brother David Nuell of California, as well as three sons, Jordan of Minnesota; Isaac, who is a graduate student in Denver; and Aaron, who is a senior majoring in education at MTSU.


• ATTENTION, MEDIA: To secure a color jpeg of Dr. Lon Nuell for editorial use, please e-mail your request to Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at

***PLEASE NOTE: Nuell was featured in the November 2007 edition of “Middle Tennessee Record,” a monthly video-magazine program broadcast on cable television in Murfreesboro, Nashville and surrounding communities. To view this program segment titled “Muslim and Jewish Students Break Bread Together” online, please access

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